Home » Air » Chinese developing C-17 clone

Chinese developing C-17 clone

by Mike Hoffman on December 27, 2012

The Chinese military confirmed that it is developing a large transport aircraft.

The announcement comes after blurry photos leaked onto aviation forums on Christmas Eve. The photos were taken at Xian Aircraft Corporation’s airfield. As Danger Room pointed out earlier, the photos show an aircraft that looks a heck of a lot like the U.S. Air Force’s C-17.

The aircraft features four jet engines and looks to be the same size as the C-17 albeit the blurry photos make it tough to discern too many details. Following questions about the plane the Chinese issued this statement:

“To meet the needs of the national economy and social development, and in the service of military modernization, better disaster relief, humanitarian relief and other emergency tasks, our country is developing a large transport aircraft,” the statement read.

Designated the Y-20, the photos, it has been suspected for years that the Chinese have been working on developing an aircraft similar to the C-17. In order for their military to continue to grow into a global power, it needs a transport workhorse similar to the U.S. Air Force’s C-17.

It appears from the photos, the Chinese are well on their way.

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{ 55 comments… read them below or add one }

Lance December 27, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Not surprised they copy almost everyone's designs. IE J-7 copy of Russian MiG-21, J-31 copy of F-35, Type-59 Tanks Russian T-55 copy.

China rarely gets there own ideas they love to copy them.


okay whatever December 27, 2012 at 4:36 pm

By copy you mean steal, right? Yeah, why spend the time and money on engineering when you can steal the plans?


Mat December 27, 2012 at 6:49 pm

Y20 was developed with help of Ukrainian Antonov Design Buro you know the guys that know more than anyone else about cargo planes .

In cargo planes form follows function and so all look more or less the same. High wing ,T tail big fuselage ,landing gear in sidepods ect.

This notion of Chinese copying US designs is a knee jerk feel good reaction , before the Chinese everything Soviets did was rumored to be copy of western desgins ,just look at scientiifc papers published in US universities half of the authors are Chinese,Koreans,Japanese


Guest December 27, 2012 at 11:50 pm

you should look at the pictures of the plane. it is clearly very similar to the c-17.


ademrudin December 28, 2012 at 2:01 am

I love how the only voice of reason on this post is being thumbed-down.

Cargo aircraft all have the same basic requirements, and they all drive you toward the same basic aircraft layout.

Req #1: Big cargo area, roll-on, roll-off capability. This drives you towards a square-ish planform fuselage that hugs the ground. So low that you end up putting the landing gear on the sides of the fuselage in pods, rather than underneath - you don't want them intruding on the cargo area.

You don't want the main wing spar through the cargo area, and you want the engines high over the ground so they don't ingest debris on rough airfields; these two factors plus the low fuselage basically require a high wing, often in a "hump" over the main fuselage proper.

And you want to be able to do high-sink-rate landings into unfriendly airspace if necessary, so a high T-tail keeps the wake off the (already unusually high) wings from robbing you of pitch authority in low-speed, high AOA maneuvers.

This is why all cargo aircraft (C-17, C-5, C-141, YC-14, YC-15, AN-124, AN-225, IL-86, etc) all broadly resemble each other, and notably do NOT appear to be airliners - civilian airlines have a completely different set of operational requirements from military transports.

Bearing all of this in mind, OF COURSE the Chinese Y-20 bears some sort of resemblance to the C-17. But calling it a "clone" based entirely off these blurry pictures is sensationalist ******** and DT's editorial staff should be ashamed of themselves.


Steven December 28, 2012 at 8:37 am

The DT's editorial staff may have erred in their title with the use of the word 'Clone', however, throughout the article they use the word 'similar' which does not mean 'exactly' like but having the characteristics of a cargo aircraft that fits the niche that the C-17 does. You should be ashamed of your last paragraph. Dolt!


bigfingo December 28, 2012 at 9:08 am

Made ya look!!!

From: Past Master of the Obvious

Tom December 28, 2012 at 9:50 am

I would add that the first thing I noticed when looking at the pictures is the relatively small diameter of the engines on the Chinese plane, indicating to me they are still at least two generations behind in engine technology.


andy December 27, 2012 at 9:23 pm

China claim they invented the NOODLE AND GUN POWDER TOO…????lol

They also just invented the entire China sea too.


Matrix3692 December 28, 2012 at 12:16 am
krazykmw December 28, 2012 at 8:38 pm

and in our infinite wisdom WE PAY THEM TO DO IT by having them manufacture everything for us.


whoaa December 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Hey, if it works why fix it lol.


Kole December 27, 2012 at 2:32 pm

Well, seems that they are pretty late to the party when it comes to transport aircraft… then again, they are late to everything…


Bill Huang December 28, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Well, the Americans are surely prone to heart attacks and surprises whenever the Chinese are late to the party.


EW3 December 27, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I'm sure there are those on this site that will say it's stealthy /sarc


RunningBear December 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm

How close is the copy of the C-17, is it more of a C-17A or did they go for the improved but never built C-17B? Does this indicate that they only build the production versions?

Happy New Year! :)


marc27 December 27, 2012 at 4:30 pm

only the exterior looks like the c17 the interior components are total crap just like everything the chinese domestically built. even the russians said in a statement that the chinese copy of the su27 is total crap that would never be as powerful as their version.


Sir Sapo December 27, 2012 at 4:56 pm
redordead December 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

more importantly, they have the money and/or are willing to spend it on a bewildering number of military designs.


matt December 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm

looks more like a larger version of Embraer KC-390


Benjamin December 27, 2012 at 5:57 pm

What I would look at is how powerful the engines are. A transport that size would need an engine bigger then what is on the IL-76. Engines have been the achilles heel of the Chinese so far.


Tom December 28, 2012 at 12:31 pm

You can tell from the diameter of the engines on this thing they are not up to Western standards in jet engine technology.


Bill Huang December 28, 2012 at 3:45 pm

I think the production version will be installed with the WS-20 engine as tests run by.


jack December 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Chinese haven't developed anything on their own since fireworks.


PrometheusGoneWild December 27, 2012 at 8:28 pm

This will allow then to fly troops quickly to every spot in their country where they are oppressing minority groups….
Soon they will have as many white elephants as we do and we will start buying their government issued bonds…..


HHH December 27, 2012 at 8:36 pm

Lets all thank Nixon for connecting the Chinese with the West. If he didn't go there the Russians would had plans to nuke them at the time.

Instead of a wasteland it's a junkyard and the global center of manufacturing.

We've matured our manufacturing even if it's overpriced making everything uncompetitive. Thanks unions. But the Chinese progressing so much so fast will be their achilles heel down the road.


Dean December 27, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Perhaps you prefer the working conditions in a Chinese factory?

Yes. This is a cargo plane that looks like ours. Does it have the same weight-to-thrust? What about maximum take-off weight? What about range? Inflight refueling? Can it use anything other than a 10k foot runway? Plus, this is just one aircraft. We have airlift capacity to pretty much form an aluminum conveyor belt from Continental US to Afghanistan. I'm not going to lose a wink of sleep until we know more.


John Deere December 28, 2012 at 8:47 am

"Thanks unions".

Only 6% of the US workforce is unionized. In Germany it's over 20% and it hasn't done them any harm.


justsaying December 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm

That's because they're Germans. More intelligent on average and less lazy too. Americans ruin lots of good things.


mi1400 December 28, 2012 at 12:45 am

If it would have been some other countries … all patent trolls and legal battles would have been waged on that country … if some powerful country is doing that … US etc just bad mouth, moan and groan .. nothing else. ….


metfan lou December 28, 2012 at 9:11 am

Heck they have billions of our bonds, just use the m oney to buy them from us. Sounds just too easy.


SANDMAN December 28, 2012 at 9:54 am



charlie g December 28, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I second that, but it has to be a really big one.


Jimmy J December 28, 2012 at 10:30 am

HHH - “Thanks Unions”

Wake up, the problem today is “CORPORATE GREED” in the Board Room, not Lunch Bucket Joe who needs two incomes to survive in this world !!!!


William_C1 December 28, 2012 at 4:16 pm

But when union bosses are greedy and corrupt as they are in too many unions it certainly isn't helping matters at all.


Belesari December 28, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Yet the difference between the average Chinese worker and their bosses is far worse. Yet they are getting the jobs? So its not that. In addition jobs are being shipped to non union states and are doing great. So why is it everywhere the unions rule there is economic trouble worse than that in non union controled?


Taylor December 28, 2012 at 11:39 am

When it comes to military equipment, stealing the enemy's designs is fair game. If we are stupid enough to let them do it, shame on us. The Chinese seem to be pretty smart people except that they don't seem to be able to master freedom and goodness so far. That takes an advanced civilization. They do have a Christian underground that probably gets those concepts.


justsaying December 28, 2012 at 1:14 pm

The idea that goodness requires Christianity is silly. More arrogance and idiocy from the religious right, driving to church every Sunday in their starched up suits to listen how to be good when they could actually be using that time to help others. The irony seems to be lost on them.


TonyC December 28, 2012 at 12:23 pm

China is determined to match the West and Russia in military capabilities. Then they will invade Taiwan knowing the US will not be able to stop them. These transports are meant for taking troops to Taipei, not humanitarian relief. Once they have subdued Taiwan, then they will turn their attention to other areas.


rich December 28, 2012 at 12:50 pm

First an aircraft carrier, then a F-22 clone on steroids, now a long range heavy lift cargo jet. China is developing the tools she needs to have an offensive capability far beyond the first island chain. I wonder when amphibs in the US style will be launched? I'd think Australia, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan would start getting nervous about their future in about 10 years. Not that China intends on invading but that China could overwhelm them in short order, if she had a mind too. In the case of Australia, China could cut off air and sea lanes with the US, something the Japanese attempted in 1942.


cs4 December 28, 2012 at 8:25 pm

The Chinese are NOT Japanese, please don't think that all Asians who look the same to you think alike.


Benjamin December 29, 2012 at 10:08 am

At that point of time in 1942, the Japanese had superior forces in the PAcific and failed. I think the same would be said of the Chineses forces.


Alex December 28, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Looks like a C-17? Really DT?

Looks far more like an Antonov/Ilyushin influenced design than anything else.

Of all the defense sites I regularly peruse, DT is definitely closest to the tabloid mag of the industry.


Jay December 28, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Obama has probably mailed the Chinese the C-17 plans …

The communist skunk in the White House …

Will do more harm to this country than the Chinese ever could …

I'm waiting for the first Left-Wing dope to reply - calling me a racist.


John Deere December 28, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Jay, trolling is a art you haven't mastered.


mike December 28, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Your spelling's too good for someone who actually thinks this, though the shit grammar's a good start. Next time, make those ellipses, I dunno, seven long and put a couple exclamation marks at the end of each.


George December 28, 2012 at 1:30 pm

And we are going to close down the production line because we have "enough" C-17's. Amazing.


Juuso December 28, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Transport aircraft gap! US of A must build at least 500 C-17 to close it.


Gen. King December 28, 2012 at 2:22 pm

The Y-20 is about 80% of C-17 in size and weight. Its "wing-above-fuselage" design is totally different from C-17's "wing-through-fuselage" design. Antonov claims they have contributed to the design. Y-20 really looks kind like an enlarged An-70, albeit with a T tail instead of a conventional tail.


Nicky December 28, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Looks like the Chinese copied parts of the C-17 and parts of the A-400 Atlas to come up with a Cloned version of the two.


johnvarry December 28, 2012 at 7:53 pm

A former Boeing employee was convicted in June 2009 of selling technical info on the C-17 to China. The C-17 data may have influenced the design but its not a direct copy, The dimensions are all slightly smaller.


karl johnson December 28, 2012 at 8:07 pm

That is what happens when you let Boeing operate in China. Just like Apple and any other technology company.
As well as allowing export to/importation in of anything.
They copy it, they pay no royalty fees to copywright/trademark/tradedress/registered owners.


KIng Wong December 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm

So many sour grape! and jealousy here. Y-20 don't looks nothing like C-17


cs4 December 28, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Well, what do you expect from the self-proclaimed "Kings of Innovation and Ingenuity". Even if Y-20 is an ekranoplan, they will still claim it as a C-17 clone modified to operate as one.


SANDMAN December 29, 2012 at 7:54 am

So why are we still putting up factories in china???? We are just feeding their people, their economy, their war machine! If we need cheap labor, why not set up in countries which we are aligned to and who needs our help. If we move out of china and our allies follow, the chinese economy will burst!


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